Strike by 11 000 halts gold mining
IOL - Reuters
22 March 2000
Thousands of gold miners stayed away from work
on Wednesday in a one-day
strike at Free State gold mines to protest
against job losses and poverty.
Gold Fields, the world's second largest gold
producer, said mining operations
at its Beatrix, St Helena and Oryx mines had
effectively ground to a halt
after 11 000 members of the National Union of
Mineworkers (Num) failed to show
up for work.
"It appears the plants are working, but mining
operations have been hit," Gold
Fields spokesperson Willie Jacobsz said.
Gold Fields estimated the one-day job action
would cost St Helena about
R1,5-million in lost revenue, Beatrix about
R3,6-million, and Oryx roughly
Total one day output from the three mines is
Harmony Gold said about 9 000 mineworkers at
its Free State mine had failed to
report for work, closing down mining operations
for the day, but the plant was
"We will try to recover it, but it is a lost
day of production," said
operations director Graham Briggs.
AngloGold and African Rainbow Minerals, two
other major Free State gold
producers, did not have immediate details on
the state of their operations.
A Num spokesperson said the strike was part of
a campaign against unemployment
launched by the 1,8 million-member Congress of
South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu). The protest has seen rolling job
action in several provinces and is
set to climax in a national strike on May 10.
The Num has about 50 000 members in the Free
State, one of the country's
richest gold belts.
At their peak, gold mines were the backbone of
the country's economy,
employing 530 000 miners in 1987. But the
industry was forced to restructure
after the end of apartheid in 1994 opened South
Africa's economy to foreign
That, coupled with a steadily declining gold
price, has trimmed the gold
mining workforce to around 200 000 today. -